My oldest son’s college move-in date is August 14th.
That day will also mark the 4-year anniversary of his dad’s death. Yeah, what are the odds it’s the exact, same date???
Ugh. It’ll most definitely be a day filled with a double whammy of emotions.
But as I prepare for this transition, I’m confident my journey through the process will be easier than most because I’ve already had to endure a huge loss and absence.
Let me offer a little perspective to fellow parents sending off their firstborn to college…
When my three boys and I lost Wayne, there was a significant change to our family dynamic. Parents, be prepared to experience a seismic shift in the look and feel of your family, too.
But instead of replacing your kitchen table with a smaller one because it’s incredibly painful staring at that empty seat, you can fondly look at that spot as a placeholder; knowing your precious child will be sitting there in a few, short months raving over mom’s Thanksgiving casseroles.
While I struggled to keep family pictures on the wall because seeing them was a stark reminder that those past experiences were now PERIODS in our family story — never to be repeated or replicated; you can gaze at your photos and see the events as COMMAS that will invite and welcome more vacations, birthdays and holidays together.
As I cleaned out my husband’s closet and boxed up all the reminders of a life cut too short, you can push to one side your kids’ left behind clothing and garner a little extra closet space until they return home for the summer.
Now, I’m not here to diminish or discount all the emotions you’ll feel. You will definitely will be grieving a loss — the loss of presence, of time, and of connection.
BUT YOUR CHILD IS STILL ALIVE!!!
You can call them.
You can text them.
You can track their every move on Life360.
My dear, sad, momma friends, here’s my challenge to you: Don’t be so wrapped up in the grief of WHAT WAS that you miss out on the blessing of WAS IS.
Keep this in mind:
They’ll be coming home to you soon where you’ll be way too clingy, give extra hugs and ask plenty of nosey questions.
Their old high school friends will pop in during Christmas break, raid your fridge and again fill your home with late-night noise and chaos.
Spring Break might be spent on a mountain in Colorado with new frat brothers or sorority sisters, but you’ll get to follow along on their Instagram story.
Then they’ll pack up a dorm room and marvel at how fast that first year flew by.
Joy and grief can hold hands. It’s OK to be sad at the loss of what you had.
But be mindful to also choose joy at the amazing job you did raising an incredible human who is now headed off to live their best life.
I shared this to Facebook on August 1, 2022